Shameless self indulgence, Uncategorized

In Which the Monkey Goes to a Wake

If the mind stops racing, the thoughts will catch up.

This you know instinctively, even if you can’t quite put the concept into words, and so your mind cooperates by chattering like an overcaffienated monkey while you drive. Every and all possible subject but death and the departed is opened up and examined, until the mind takes on a trancelike state of glee.

“What’s sad?”

“What does sad mean?”

“What is there to possibly be sad about?


You focus on work and you focus on getting things done and you hold on to this shaky house of cards that you have constructed that says “everything is going to be all right and this is not going to hurt you.”

Then you arrive at the wake and it is the same ordeal you have been through many times before. The same sweaty palms and the same fuck-all heat and you can feel the perspiration dripping down the back of your suit pants. The same sickening sweet smell of funeral flowers.

And your chattering monkey mind still doesn’t want to address the subject so it tries to force laughter from your lips at the most inappropriate moment. The hysterical gleeful guffaws of someone who can’t be appropriate.

But you stifle these hysterical impulses because you have been here before and you know they will come and you bite your lip and fold your arms behind your back and concentrate hard on producing a face that says “I am mourning and I am serious and I am slightly concerned.”

And you think you will be OK until you see the receiving line and your relatives and then you realize that this death is not just an abstract construction in your head but a very real thing in which real people are hurting and then suddenly it doesn’t seem so hard to suppress the hysterical laughter any more.

But your mind still races and races and even when you get through the line and you stop to pray in front of the casket you still have trouble putting a concrete thought together because it is too much pressure to figure out what the right words are for this one final goodbye.

So you end up losing focus and then you get embarassed and figure you have been kneeling there too long so you get up and bless yourself and make it look for all the world like you have just completed a meaningful thought.

And then there are the pictures. The snapshots from a life that has ended. Pictures of happier times. Times before cancer and chemo and nausea and seizures and hospice and death.

You see these pictures and you wonder about your own life and the photos you took and you wonder what moments will be chosen to represent your life on the poster boards at your wake.

You think these things.

If the mind stops racing, the thoughts catch up.